The Outback Deluxe package from Challenge Campers is its most popular model and, once we had taken it for a short drive into the Adelaide Hills, we could understand why.
This review was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s June 2009 issue
Easy to tow and handle the Challenge Camper is built on a no-nonsense 60mm-wide, eye-to-eye seven-leaf spring suspension with a rebound helper spring sitting on top of the spring pack. If that is not to your liking Challenge can add either an independent coil sprung, trailing arm suspension or an Alko independent rubber suspension.
There’s a 45mm square axle fitted with six-stud hubs complete with mechanical drum brakes, although you can opt for hydraulic override brakes or electric brakes – the latter being my choice of brakes for any off-road trailer. Standard fitment on the camper are 15x7 Sunraysia steel wheels fitted with 31x10.5R15 tyres, but these can be changed to suit the tow vehicle if required and I’d certainly go for that!
A fully galvanised heavy-duty RHS chassis and drawbar sits underneath a 2.1x1.2m by 51cm-deep box, the trailer floor of which is chequer-plate and, once painted, is covered in marine carpet. The mudguards are braced and linked into the whole body structure fore and aft with the resultant sidesteps used to carry three jerry cans and a 4.5kg gas bottle.
When I was at the factory I had the opportunity to inspect a completed chassis-suspension-box unit before it was painted. I was impressed by the welding and how the whole chassis, A-frame, box trailer and mudguards were all tied together into one strong unit.
The hinged rear tailgate is fitted with a camlock compression latch ensuring when the unit is packed for travelling it is as close to being dustproof as any trailer can be.
A side hatch on the near side front of the trailer allows access into the box cargo compartment whether the camper tent is erected or not. Spring loaded, zinc-plated stabiliser legs are fitted at the rear of the trailer.
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Up front there’s an off-road polyblock coupling, similar to a Tregg coupling, with its mechanical override handbrake set-up and a swivelling jockey wheel. Sitting on the A-frame is a large alloy chequer-plate storage box along with the spare wheel.
The three-metre standard tent is easily erected off the trailer’s left side. An overnight set-up takes two people just a couple of minutes while pegging out the 1.83m annex, kitchen annex and draught curtain adds a few more minutes to the timetable. It’s as simple and as quick as any tent of this design can be.
Larger tents or tents that open out the back – or on the opposite side of the trailer – can also be provided. When travelling all the canvas is stored under a zippered, tied down, heavy-duty PVC dust cover.
The canvas used throughout is ‘Wax Converters’ dyna-proofed canvas; 425g in the roof and 312g in the walls. There’s three internal opening windows at bed level, one external opening large window on the far tent wall and two zippered canvas doors with screens on the side walls.
All mesh is fine ‘Tentex’ screen. Zips are high quality units, all sewing is even and all seams are reinforced where required, while the internal steel framework has all the bows held in position with reinforced pockets and retainers. The welded PVC tub floor is the very best for being durable and waterproof. Finally, there is a choice of seven canvas colours.
One option this camper unit had fitted was a ‘tropical roof’ and this particular style was one I hadn’t seen before. Looking a bit like heavy-duty ‘bubble wrap’ with both sides covered in shiny alloy foil it certainly looked like it would repel a lot of sunlight and heat.
Challenge reckons it makes the tents a good ten degrees cooler on a sunny day! I reckon it would do that and more. The tropical roof, once fitted, can stay where it is and be packed away as the tent is folded up.
Once the tent section is erected the queen-size innerspring bed is readily accessible via a large step. There’s plenty of window and door area giving the camper excellent ventilation and access. One of the things I particularly liked with this camper is that the whole tent unit is mounted on the bed base. This comes with gas struts that allow lifting of the base so the cavernous storage area under the bed can also be accessed from the top – whether the tent is erected or not!
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The deluxe kitchen package is located inside the rear tailgate and is accessible all the time for just a quick brew on the side of the road or once the camper is set-up. Probably the only disadvantage of it being located on the tailgate is that if the weather is inclement you need to put up the kitchen annex to be able to cook under some protection.
The standard stainless steel stove has two burners and a grille with storage underneath. The removable plastic sink beside the stove has a hand pump and more storage underneath that includes room for the provided fire extinguisher. Water comes from a standard fitment 86-litre water tank (with stoneguard) mounted under the trailer, with the filler near where the gas bottle mounts. An extra water tank can also be fitted.
The Deluxe camper’s standard electrical lighting package includes a heavy-duty 90-amp hour battery, two 12-volt power sockets, a number of lights along with a 240V battery charger, voltmeter and fuse box.
There wasn’t much we could see that we would add, although a second battery always comes in handy.
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The Outback Deluxe Camper is valued at $16,950. The only options on the one we tested were the tropical fly roof and a better battery charging unit, all of which adds a few hundred bucks to the overall cost.
Challenge makes a wide range of trailers (in steel or alloy), tents and annexes, along with a range of camper-trailers valued from just under six grand to nearly $20,000. The company often builds custom camper trailers to suit people’s particular needs and can include boat and outboard motor racks, additional awnings and more. Challenge has agents in each state.
For more information contact, Challenge Camper Trailers P/L, Edwardstown SA, on 08 8277 9853, or check out the website at challengecampertrailers.com.